Monday Night Football Picks: Ravens ready to rough up Gabbert, Jaguars

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
Monday, 10/24/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Baltimore -10
Current Betting Line:  Baltimore -10
Opening Total:  39
Current Total:  38.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Ravens vs. Jaguars NFL Game Preview
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh has never been beaten by a first- or second-year quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will try to do something no other team has been able to do against the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh on Monday Night Football.  The Ravens (4-1) have never lost to a rookie or second-year quarterback under Harbaugh, and the Jaguars (1-5) are hoping to hand them their first loss in that scenario with Blaine Gabbert under center.

Baltimore (-10, O/U 38.5) is 6-0 when facing a QB that has been in the NFL two years or less, as the team’s defense has put a lot of pressure on young signal callers.  The last time the Ravens played in prime time on October 2, they forced New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez into committing four turnovers and scored three touchdowns off of them.  Sanchez is in his third year, so it will be interesting to see how Gabbert handles a defense that is allowing a league-low 14.2 points per game.

Gabbert struggled last week in a 17-13 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing just 12 of 26 passes for 109 yards.  But he did not turn the ball over and helped Jacksonville cover the 12.5-point spread against a much more talented team.

The Jaguars outscored the Steelers 10-0 in the second half and will have another big challenge trying to duplicate that feat against Baltimore on Monday night.  The Ravens have not trailed a game at halftime this season and were outscored only once after the intermission.  That just happened to be their lone loss at Tennessee in Week 2.

Jacksonville will likely look to hand the ball off to running back Maurice Jones-Drew early and often in an effort to take pressure off Gabbert and prevent this game from becoming a shootout.  Jones-Drew enters Monday ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing with 572 yards but can jump to second by totaling more than 100 against Baltimore.

That will be a tough task though against a Ravens defense allowing just 76.6 yards per game on the ground this year.  They have surrendered just one rushing touchdown as well and hope their own running game will help them offensively behind Ray Rice.

Rice is one of three backs with at least 300 yards rushing and receiving and will look to use both of those skills against the Jaguars, who have played respectable defense at times.  Jacksonville ranks ninth in the league in total defense, allowing 325.3 yards per game.  The team has also given up 22 points per game, which is good enough for 14th.  The Jaguars are 2-7 against the spread in their last nine appearances on Monday Night Football and 3-10 ATS in their past 13 games overall against teams with a winning record.

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